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GoodFellas (1990) Movie Review & Summary

This ravishing gangster classic will make you fall in love with cinema all over again. Witness Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci at their very best as we embark on this mobster crime story which elevated Martin Scorcese’s status to one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.

GoodFellas (1990)

GoodFellas (1990)

Three Decades of Life in the Mafia.

  • Genres: Biography, crime & drama
  • Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta & Joe Pesci
  • Director: Martin Scorsese


This epic gangster flick which was adapted by Nicholas Pileggi’s book based on a true story has it all; gang violence, blood, betrayal and most importantly; heart. The chemistry between the screenplay and the characters is like tomato soup and meatballs, which you will be constantly seeing in the film by the way. Also, the connection between the bullets and how the ‘dead’ guys fall? Smooth... Surprisingly, a film full of foul language, blood and violence laid low on the sexual content; making this a perfect Sunday night family movie… if you’re over 18 and have a stomach for some truly dark content. This movie will not let you pause for even a second; so, expect to embark on 146 minutes of cinematic brilliance as it will be over sooner than you expect.


  • Action packed
  • Fast paced
  • Stellar acting
  • Brilliant direction


  • Violence
Characters & Acting
Music & cinematography

The details


This movie does such a good job by adapting a new storytelling approach that includes character thoughts, flash forwards as well as some truly engrossing characters.

The editing is showcased brilliantly with a quick mash up of events keeps your eyes glued to the screen. Goodfellas is easily the finest gangster film, and it has stood the test of time nearly 30 years post release. The way we get up close and delve deep into the lives of these criminals; one cannot help but imagine themselves have such power.

The movie further relies on brilliant comical moments that further elevate how these gangsters live their cold and ruthless lives. With a fine cast consisting of award-winning actors like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and ray Liotta; the movie gives us some genuine and heartfelt character moments.


Martin Scorsese, the director of the film, begins the film with a non-linear style of storytelling; the first scene being a flashforward of sorts. We then get a look into Henry Hill’s youthful days which takes place in 1955. Following the story of Henry hill; we follow his journey in. Documentary like style as he basically narrates the movie as we go along. This movie perfectly encapsulates a world where mafia and crime is seen as the new normal. Despite indulging in all sorts of illegal activities the mafia regime has their own sets of rules and ideas that they follow; no different from any regular family.

We further see how Hill eventually breaks bad as he becomes the perfect embodiment of what he always hoped he could become; a mafia man. Paulie Cicero mentors him, and this is where he gets to meet James Conway and Tommy DeVito who are the key characters that make this film so great.. By the 1960s, he has towered up the chain of command in the family business as we see this exciting story play out.

The film is further compacted with great scenes of acting and cinematography; taking full advantage of one of the best directors in the world; along with arguably one of the best ensemble any film could seek for.


The script was more of a collaborative effort between Nicholas Pileggi, who authored the book Wise Guys, and Scorsese, the Director. By adapting a documentary-sequel style of storytelling which allows the audience to learn more about this mafia world through Hills as well as his wife; we get a very interesting script that does not shy away from being real while maintaining that regular dose of crazy that most real mafia families would ascertain.

As Hills’ wife says, “the mob world is the real world”. This line is brilliantly played across the events of the movie; by giving us such a deep dive into the family and their lives which makes the plot twists, the action sequences and even the swearing all the more entertaining.

Character and acting

With an A list cast, it was no surprise that the movie delivered us with such stellar performances. All the way from the legendary Robert De Niro to Joe Pesci; the acting was nothing short of Oscar worthy. The success of this movie came straight from the amount of dedication that we observed from the actors; Ray Liotta trying to match his voice to that of real-life Hill as precisely as possible while De Niro tried to figure out the perfect way to hold a cigarette.

And of course; who can look past the infamous scene with Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito and Liotta’s Hill where Liotta delivered us with one of the most iconic laughs in all of cinema. Their brilliant performances were rewarded with a huge list of accolades, including an Oscar for Pesci’s portrayal of DeVito.

Music and cinematography

To describe the music and score of this film; no need to look past the use of rock music and hard-core rock; especially in that crazy climatic scene full of jump-cuts.  There was no particular score in this movie but Scorcese believed in using the right tunes to match the scenes or characters.

The cinematography beautifully encapsulated this mafia lifestyle that the characters were seen living in. The décor to the use of jump cuts that brought some of the reckless scenes to life was truly phenomenal. No man could make this style of movie better than Martin Scorcese; truly topping the list of his all-time greatest creation.

Final verdict

We are going to keep this one short. Goodfellas is not only arguably the greatest gangster movie of all time; it is a strong contender when the debate for the greatest films comes across. This movie will give you everything; the non- linear storytelling that will also keep you on the edge of your seats; the brilliant storytelling that jumps back and forth as we see these three-dimensional characters converse, and of course… Joe Pesci saying, “what do you mean I’m funny”. This movie is truly a must watch for all cinema lovers since it does not get much better. Catch Goodfellas on Netflix U.S.

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